Showing posts with label Social Justice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Justice. Show all posts

March 31, 2019

Meeting The Honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "Remembering Amos Oz."

Wow, this was so awesome today--I got to shake hands with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

We went to the memorial today for famous Israeli author, Amos Oz. 
I love Oz’s literary works–he is a genius–even as I find myself disagreeing with some of his ideology: Yes, I agree with his humanism and the need to have peace with the Palestinians, but also I am steadfast that Israel must remain strong in the face of the numerous threats it faces, especially after the terrible lessons of the Holocaust. However, as much as I came to honor Oz, I felt is was a dishonor to him that the memorial was in great part turned into a political discourse for leftists (even as it was stated that Oz himself separated his pens for literature and politics).

I am convinced that in the end, it will be the moderates, and not the proliferating extremists (left or right) that bring peace, security, and justice to Israel and the Palestinians. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

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July 4, 2018

December 3, 2017

Crumbs Are For The Birds, Not The Workers

Since the days of slavery, workers have had very little in terms of rights or protections. 

The rich and powerful capitalist employers hold all the cards.

Like this poster says:
"Which Shall It Be?
Duke: 'If you demand your rights, no more crumbs from my table.'
Working Man: 'Give me my rights and keep your crumbs.'"
The capitalist owners enjoy being able to give "trickle-down economics" to the average working man. 

Basically, it's just crumbs from the rich man's table. 

And if you don't like it, and you want rights, protections, and more...tough luck, and no more crumbs for you!

But the little guy who breaks his back to earn his daily bread, wants his dignity and respect more than the crumbs from the "capitalist pig" taking advantage of him.

Trickle-down is bullshit!

Crumbs aren't going to raise the standard of living for the working class. 

We need living wages, social and income equality, and workers rights and protections to keep the little guy from being bulldozed by the rich and powerful. 

Certainly, there are many rich and powerful people that are good and generous, but not everyone is that that way. 

And we can't have mistreatment of people by those wielding a whip over them.

Yes, workers need to perform and conduct themselves professionally--that is their job.

But workers shouldn't be taken advantage of with poor wages, little to no benefits, and miserable working conditions (including bullying, harassment, and hostile work environments). 

Remember that in life tables can get turned and the rich and powerful can become the poor and the weak.  

Therefore, pay and treat your workers as you would want to be paid and treated. 

No one is so big as to be untouchable by G-d. 

Money and power will not save anyone from illness, accidents, disasters, and misfortune.

The only thing that does save people is good deeds, kind words, compassion, faith, and prayer. 

Crumbs are for the birds, dignity and respect are for the people!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 1, 2017

Sexual Acting Act

There is now a seemingly endless slate of sexual harassment allegations against some of the biggest shots from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. 

From the longest-serving Congressmen to the biggest star of morning television news, it seems that no one is sacrosanct.

Is it just that "absolute power corrupts absolutely"?

Or maybe it's more broadly to be stated, as the Rabbi noted on Shabbat, that: 
"G-d created man perfectly imperfect!"
Men and women are created with sexual urges to procreate, bond emotionally and physically, and enjoy each other. 

Men tend to be the stronger than women and are able to have children into old age, and perhaps, it can be said, have the bigger "urge to merge.

Sure, there are women who are normally sexually active, and also those who are perhaps hypersexual (nympomaniac, "cougars," etc.) and who commit sexual abuse too.

In fact, it was interesting that Wikipedia actually breaks rape down into 4 gender on gender categories:

- Rape of females by males
- Rape of females by females
- Rape of males by females
- Rape of males by males

Issues with physical intimacy and sexual harassment and violence span both sexes, however, it is also clear that:
"Rape affects women disproportionately, with the majority of people convicted being men."

In the U.S., the statistics show gross levels of sexual violence to women:

- 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime (vs 1 in 71 men).

- 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female.

Also, particularly disturbing is the number of girls and boys targeted:

- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 18. 

What type of society have we created, where women and children are not generally safe?

It's interesting to me in Judaism that there is a recognition of sexual impulse, and that some Hasidim actually wear a "gartel" belt when praying to physically and spiritually separate the upper half of the body with the head and heart, from the lower half with the more animal instincts.

In short, the head and heart need to control the animal part of people. 

Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be happening in so many cases. 

Stunned from the outpouring of sexual allegations nearly everyday now, I said to my wife: 
"What is wrong with these people? They have it all: position, power, and wealth; and yet, they throw it all away --including their integrity and reputations--for a five minute lay in the hay!"

Is the animal instinct too strong for the person to control? That just isn't going to cut it.

As a functioning society, it's got be completely unacceptable for people to act out sexually or otherwise violently hurt their neighbors. 

It's time for social reform and for the animals to be controlled by the people. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 26, 2017

You Are The Working Class

So I like to speak with people about their lives.

Today at breakfast, there was a gentlemen working the egg bar making omelettes for people.

Recognizing him, I said "You've been here a number of years?"

He responds, "Yeah, but I want to leave here!"

I was sort of taken aback at his bluntness, and inquired further, "Why, is everything okay?"

He goes, "Not really. They'll only give me work 6 to 7 hours a day, and I can't make a living on 32 hours a week!"

I asked innocently, "Do you have a second job or something?"

He says, "No, this is it," and proceeded to make the next person's omelette.

Feeling sort of shitty bad for him...

Another lady who works the tables says to us: "I won't be seeing you."

I ask, "Why--are you off the next few days?"

She says, "No, I don't come back until next Saturday--I only work the weekends here, and somewhere else on weekdays."

Wondering about this, I say: "So you work 7 days a week?"

She answers, "Yes, year-round!"

After we said goodbye until next time, I looked at my wife grimacing that this women has to work 7 days a week, 365 days a year, just to earn a basic living.

I'll tell you the system is broken.

Shareholders and corporate chieftains squeeze profits and earnings per share out of their companies while the workers can barely get by.

The workers are not part of the companies they labor for--they are merely hired hands who will be replaced in a moment by another minimum wage worker if they but open their mouths to protest one word.

Slavery did not end in building the Great Pyramids of Egypt or in the plantations of the South--the average worker is still just a slave.

Employee engagement and development and "Human Capital" are terms organizations use to make themselves and their workers believe that there is real caring and unity going on.

But we know the truth by how people are treated with harshness, disrespect, disdain, and even abuse--sexual and otherwise!

Yeah, are you really valued or are you a wage slave showered with empty platitudes of unity and caring.

Real leadership is genuine compassion, empathy, and helping people both inside and outside the organization--not just a guise, disguise, mask for making just another dollar cracking the whip on the backs of the underclass.

All people are important.

All people deserve a living wage.

All people are entitled to work with dignity and respect.

All people need to be apart of a system that is fair and equitable.

Care for your brothers and sisters for one day you will be called before them in the court of Heaven and they will speak the final truth to power. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 17, 2017

It's Gazillions Baby!

So being a millionaire is no longer anything.

You're still considered sort of a poor schlub!

Even a billionaire is not such a big deal anymore. 

It takes at least $2 billion to make it unto the Forbes 400 Richest Americans List

Further, a recent episode of CNBC Filthy Rich Guide asks who will become the world's first trillionaire!

They say trillionaire as in a number with "4 commas"--never really thought of it that way.

...but it's definitely a big,(1) big,(2) big,(3) big,(4) big number.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon with $90 billion currently in the bank and growing fast is forecasted to be the one who will make it. 

So no longer are we betting on which mega corporation--Apple (with a current value of almost $830 billion)--will become the first trillion dollar company.

We are talking individuals with that much moolah too. 

So with the median net worth of Americans a measly $69 thousand dollars, it's no wonder that billionaires like Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank) calls more than one entreprenuer looking for an investment, a cockroach!

What's a shame is not only the complete social inequity and class system that we have and that continues to grow with those in McMansions and others homeless, but also that so many can't see that what's really important is not the beautiful pocketbook full of money, but the decent soul filled with good deeds! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 17, 2017

Ok To Be Ourselves!

Someone shared this beautiful Jewish wedding gown on Facebook and I wanted to share it with you, because it represents life, love, and faith. 

While perhaps normally I wouldn't just post this to my blog...

I thought that in light of the report that came out of 917 hate groups operating right now in the United States, that I would take this as an opportunity to be me.

To hell with all the haters out there!

- The more they hate us, the more I will love my Jewishness. 

- The more they try to stamp out our religious freedom, the more I will relish in it. 

- The more they try to kill us, the more I will live as a Jew.

No more Holocausts...no more bigotry...no more hate--it is enough! ;-)
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August 14, 2017

A Very Dirty Swiss Hotel

This was one of the anti-Semitic signs posted at the Aparthaus Paradies hotel in Switzerland:
"To our Jewish Guests
Women, Men and Children
Please take a shower before you go swimming and although after swimming.
If you break the rules, I'm forced to close the swimming pool to you.
Thank you for understanding: Ruth Thomann"
Wow, more blatant anti-Semitism in Europe.

What a darn shame that after only 72 years since Hitler (may his evil name be erased) that this disgusting hatred of Jews rears its ugly head again.

- What killing 6,000,000 Jews in the Holocaust wasn't enough for you???

- Or maybe you preferred the blood libels, pogroms, Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, auto-da-fe, and expulsions of Jews???

Good people of Europe and their elected governments: Please speak out and shut down this sick, hateful hotel establishment. 

Do you believe in G-d?  Do you think he's watching what you do now? 

Europe and the rest of the world--wake up and cure what ails you--it's not the Jews, but the evil in your bigoted hearts. 

(Source Photo: Facebook)
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July 22, 2017

Hate Proliferates

I was really surprised to see this sign for White Supremacists right in front of our nation's Capitol like this. 

Identity Evropa is yet another hate group--this one focuses on people of European ancestry and their website claims, "We are the future."

But whether you come from Europe or Asia, the Middle East or Africa, America or the moon, aren't we all just people at the end of the day.

Who cares whether your black or white or yellow or brown, or what religion you practice, or your gender, or sexual orientation, or whether you lean left or right. 

At the end of the day, are we all not flesh, do we all not bleed, have we all not hopes and fears, do we all not answer to the one G-d Above. 

Hate proliferates from our farm belts to our inner cities, from our universities to our board rooms, from the gazillionaire to the guy who has to shovel shit for a living, from our nasty national politics to the United Nations, there is plenty of hate and bias and bigotry to go around. 

Look to the Heavens, cry a bitter tear, your hatred is your self-destruction. 

You will pray with an evil and hate-filled heart and none will answer you. 

The living G-d of Hosts who created us and loves all his children will not stand idly as hate and supremacy of one over another presides. 

The chains of our affliction, the bullet to the back of the head, the noose and the death camps, the whip, the gas, and the ovens, the hunger, the sick experiments, and the slave labor.

Only G-d is supreme over all and those that seek an advantage on the backs of their brethren will find themselves a fiery hell to contend with. 

From just a little gnat to a growing tumor--that is all that it takes to bring justice and re-level the supremacy playing field and teach who is the King of Kings and there is no other. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 26, 2017

Memorial Day Stars and Stripes

Loved this lady's sweater of the American Flag.

So cool with the stars on the sleeve like that. 

I thought this was especially nice for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

As we remember those that have sacrificed so much, and the many that have fallen making the ultimate sacrifice, so that all we could be free. 

"In the olden days," they used to say America was the "goldene medina"--the golden country--the land of opportunity!

But really, the gold itself is just fools gold, the real greatness of being here is the freedom to be who you are and to have the human rights and protections to pursue whatever your dreams are. 

Maybe that's what the stars on the flag are really all about--we can all reach for the stars--whatever stars we want--and many will actually be able to achieve the impossible. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 2, 2016

Some People Got Money


So we're in the mall, and right when you walk through the doors is a car in the entrance hall. 

This one is a lovely two-tone 2016 Rolls Royce. 

At just a measly $384,025!

Honestly, the car looked awesome. 

This was no Hyundai or Yugo.

The thing looked like a tank of art on wheels. 

What is amazing is that such an expensive car is on display in the mall...I mean who is the demographic they are trying to appeal to for this?

Well maybe it's not that bad, since another sign advertises a lease option for just $3,469 per month plus tax for 48 months with $30,000 due at signing...so that still runs you over $50K per year to drive this thing. 

Well I guess if you earnings millions, what's the big deal anyway!

And out of curiosity, as of 2009, almost a quarter million IRS filings (people and households) show earning of that much or more...nice for them, huh. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 23, 2016

Your Score Is Your Life

Absolutely fascinating article in the Washington Post

China is working on a plan to use big data to score people on their social behavior. 

Every interaction you make in life either increments or decrements your social score. 

You social score determines how trustworthy you are. 

The social score would vacuum up data from the "courts, police, banking, tax, and employment records."

People in service professions like teacher, doctors, and business could be scored for their professionalism. 

Doing positive social actions like caring for the elderly earn you added points and doing negative social actions like DUI or running a red light subtracts points from your score. 

As the score includes more and more data feeds over time, you could eventually be scored for doing your homework, chores in the home, how you treat your wife and children, the community service you do, how hard you perform at work, how you treat people socially and on dates, whether you are fair in your business dealings and treat others well, whether you do your religious duties, and so on. 

People can get rated for just about everything they do.

And these rating get aggregated into your social score. 

The score is immediately available to everyone and so they know how good or bad you are on the scale of 1 to a 1,000.

If you think people are stressed out now, can you imagine having to worry about everything you do and how you will be rated for it and how it can affect your score and your future. 

If you have a bad score, say goodbye to opportunities for education, employment, loans, friends, and marriage prospects. 

Imagine people held hostage by others threatening to give you a bad score because they don't like you, are racist, or for blackmail. 

What about society abusing this power to get you to not only follow positive social norms, but to enforce on you certain political leanings, religious followings, or policy endorsements. 

Social scores could end up meaning the ultimate in social control. 

Personal scores can manipulate your behavior by being rewarding or punitive and rehabilitative to whatever end the scoring authorities dictate. 

Moreover, hackers or the people who control the big data machinery could destroy your life in a matter of milliseconds. 

So this is what it comes down to: You are your score!

Play along and do what you are told to do...you are the Borg and you will follow. 

Conform or you are dead by number!

Transparency is everywhere. 

Pluses and minuses every day. 

What is my score today? 

Today, I am desirable and successful, and tomorrow, I am disregarded and a loser. 

Please don't kill my score.

Please don't destroy me. 

Please, I will be socially good. 

Please, I will not resist. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 23, 2016

Big Government Turnaround

So I took this photo of a handout being distributed at a major local university here in Washington, DC.

Sort of ironic for this sign that says:
"Big Government Sucks"

...to be handed out in the capital of the United States of America!

It would make sense that this negative notion of big government is connected to the low approval ratings of Congress (17%) and government services (64.4) provided.

People are seeing and sensing that big government is bad government when it is:

- Dictatorial, corrupt, and discriminatory. 

- Mired in fraud, waste, abuse, and coverups. 

- Self-serving for the politicians that are elected to serve the people. 

- When it is bureaucratic and ineffective. 

- When it is confused and without vision or plan for the country. 

- When it's indecisive, makes bad decisions, or can't successfully execute short- and long-term on it's mission. 

- When it is lacking in basic values of democracy, freedom, and human rights for all. 

At the same time, big government can be great government, when it is a beacon of light for its citizens and for the nations of the earth. 

- When it protects us from dictators, demagogues, terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, criminals, and all sorts of disasters.

- When it holds strong and cutting-edge the economy, prosperity, innovation, education, and competitive advantage of the nation. 

- When it safeguards and keeps sustainable the environment for future generations. 

- When it preserves and fortifies freedom, human rights, social equity, equality, and justice. 

- When it looks after the needy and less fortunate.

- When it lead the world in exploration, discovery, partnerships, and ultimately doing good for the people, the planet, and our future. 

Big government sucks when it goes wrong and then they start handing out these sad signs on our nation's premier college campuses. 

This is a big problem to turnaround?  

But with smart, committed, and moral leadership, it can be done! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 30, 2016

What's Cool Is Being Oppressed

So we were having this discussion with this lady in synagogue who prides herself as an activist and participates in numerous groups for social justice.

What was most striking to learn is how these days everyone is vying for the title of most oppressed. 

It's no longer "cool" or "in" to be part of the elite privileged rich, strong, and powerful.

If you are any of these, you are part of the corrupt 1%--that have more wealth now than the other 99% of society combined--and you are leeches that feed off of the legitimate working, middle class society. 

The privileged are the bullies, the racists, the occupiers, the unjust, the thieves, and the liars. 

Today, people and groups are arguing to be put on the pedestal for who is underprivileged:

- The poorest in society

- The ones with the greatest inequality

- The most discriminated against and oppressed

- The smallest of the minorities

The prize for those that attain the marks of distinction for worst status can hope to achieve:

- Sympathy (protests, petitions, and actions for boycotts, divestitures, and sanctions)

- Economic Assistance (donations, grants, loans, scholarships, and advanced technology)

- Preferential treatment (college placement, training programs, hiring, promotion, business awards, and board seats)

- Votes (elections, laws, resolutions, decisions, and court awards)

The super underdog has it way up over the superpower. 

Discontent by the masses, supercharged by social media, is leading to an overturning of society from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street.  

Socialism even for presidential candidates is no longer a dirty word in Democratic America and terrorists around the world are now "freedom fighters." 

Regimes such as Iran that sponsor terrorism, abuse human rights, and build weapons of mass destruction now just need to be "opened up" to the outside world and sanctions and non-proliferation is just more western bullying and infidel occupation.  

Other countries like Syria that are ruled by tyrannical leaders that besiege their own cities, starve and torture their people, drop barrel bombs indiscriminately, and use chemical weapons are no longer crossing a "red line", but are simply in need of a political settlement and even can enjoy two or more years of continued rule. 

Small but flourishing Democratic countries like Israel--the size of New Jersey and the only Jewish state in a world of 50 majority Muslim countries--is demonized as Apartheid oppressors of the Palestinians--those very people who are sworn to their destruction and to throwing them into the Sea--just 70 years after the Jewish Holocaust. 

Back in the United States and in Europe, waves of mass immigration across borders is perfectly fine and perhaps even desired to file the ranks of needed employees, obtain desired future voters, and alleviate the aggrieved hearts of those that committed past atrocities or closed their doors to refugees in the past, while those that speak of vetting, border control, and homeland security are Nazi fascists.

Moreover increases in taxes and spending is in vogue, while general fiscal disciple, paring the national deficit and debt, and sequestration are lunatic concepts by those seeking to suppress the middle class and destroy America. 

Don't get me wrong, we as a country can and should go a long way to decreasing inequality and improving the lives of everyone with a living wage, universal healthcare, paid maternity/paternity leave, free or reasonably-priced advanced education, and decent retirement benefits.

However, when we call everything and anything discrimination, racism, and inequality, take away individual accountability, make every grievance into a revolution and opportunity for a lynching or guillotine, things have gone from one insanity to just another. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 9, 2015

My Alter Fighting Ego

"His who life was a million to one shot."

He fought, he survived, and he triumphed.  

Go Rocky, Rambo, Sylvester Stallone. 

Human rights, social justice, good over evil. 

And never again! :-)

(Source Photo: here via Facebook)
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July 3, 2015

Happy 4th From Washington DC

Go Independence Day!

But what does it mean?


We are independent from British rule since 1776.  


That made us a free nation.


We are free to be...but be what? 


1) Safe and Secure - Have a strong military, intelligence, and homeland security to keep the peace or compromise on national security and make bad deals for political expediency and face the consequences by a host of crazed terrorist threats, a nuclear Iran, a belligerent North Korea, a bellicose Russia, or a rising confrontational China. 


2) Prosperous And Self-Sufficient - Strengthen education, encourage innovation, invest in research and development and advanced manufacturing, cultivate a motivated and capable workforce, and manage a fiscally responsible economy or spend recklessly and indiscriminately driven by pork-barrel politics and special interests and eventually bankrupt our richly-endowed nation.


3) Equal And With Fundamental Human Rights - Ensure equality and opportunity for everyone under the law, where everyone has respect and dignity and the protection of basic human rights or discriminate in large and small ways perpetuating the have and have nots in every fiber of our society, where the rich get sickeningly richer and for everyone else you're sh*t out of luck. 


4) Socially Just - Provide for a just and fair society ensuring that people are duly protected and crime does not pay or irresponsibly live in managed chaos and let violent criminals back out on the streets in a revolving door of recidivism rather than rehabilitation. 


5) Environmentally Responsible - Safeguard our environment and natural resources, invest in renewable energy resources and sustainability, reduce, reuse, and recycle, and give a hoot and don't pollute or just pig out now and leave an inhospitable gutted world for later. 


6) Democratically Governed - Rule with righteousness and integrity, give back to the people, be open and honest, listen to all sides and ensure a balanced fair approach or perpetuate lies, deceit, corruption, conspiracy, fraud, waste, and abuse. 


Not everyone in the world is so lucky to be free.


Maybe this Independence Day, we think not just about the new Terminator movie, shopping at the mall, and feasting at the BBQ, but also what we want this treasured freedom to mean, what our "leaders" are leading us to, and are we getting the freedom we all, as human beings under G-d, innately deserve.


We can definitely raise the bar and we should. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 2, 2015

In Every World, The Haves And Have Nots

So no matter the time nor the society and their particular philosophical, economical, and social creed, there are ALWAYS the haves and the have nots. 

You have your upper caste and lower caste, your rich and poor, your religious elites and laypersons, your Harvard-educated and community college grads, your executive suite and your day laborers, you masters and your slaves, your ruling elite and your plebeians, your hunter and hunted, your VIPs and your Joe Shmoes.

In India, you still have an extensive caste system even today.  In Russia, you have the KGB, the Politburo, and the Oligarchs. In China, you have the Communist Party, the Military elite, and the venture capitalists/billionaires. In Europe, you still have The Queen and vestiges of the old guard monarchies, although gone are the Feudal lords and serfs, instead replaced by the Church and successful business and political elite. In America, ah...money and political power make the country go round. 

Last evening, I watched the movie, Elysium, taking place in a dsytopian future where the Earth has become overpopulated, polluted, and sick, but the elite are riding high on a large circling space habitat called Elysium, where everyone lives in a mansion with pool and lush grounds, eats exquisitely, and has the finest healthcare in machines that can cure everything from lymphoma to do full facial reconstruction in a matter of seconds. 

Whether in the future or the past, the only difference between the haves and have nots is how much the haves have, and how little have nots have not.

Is this societal makeup preordained or is their a way that we can raise the standard of living for everyone AND make it more equitable (unless you consider it necessary for Bill Gates to have $80,000,0000,000 and the homeless person on the street not a dime in his pocket)?

Over and over again, I read how the disparity between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, becomes ever more pronounced:  
- Now for example, CEOs generally earn 331 times (yeah last year it was 354) the amount average workers do and 774 times as much as minimum wage earners!
- Studies that show that Presidential and executive powers continue to expand with eleven reasons why.
- And the richest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world.

In Elysium, after a lot of sci-fi thriller action and fighting, the protagonist manages to make EVERYONE a citizen of Elysium, so they can all partake of the largess, and at the end the med ships arrive to cure all the sick. 

That's the movies, but in real life, maybe we will see this only when the Messiah comes or there is a complete shift in the way we think and treat each other. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 21, 2014

Homeless At Foggy Bottom

The homeless situation in Washington D.C. (as in other big cities in the U.S.) is horrible and tragic. 

The homeless person here is wrapped in a blanket trying to stay warm on her wheelchair. 

Further, her bucket, at her feet, for people to give is empty. 

The Thanksgiving holiday is this week, but where is the thanks and where is the giving?

Interesting...halfway down the block is GW Hospital and across the street behind this lady is a gorgeous, modern, brand new GW University engineering and science building (almost completed now). 

The haves, the have mores, and the have nots. 

Where are all the trillions of dollars of spending going..,that we can't feed, clothe, shelter, and educate our people. 

We need to do better as a society for providing care for the truly needy.

G-d is watching what we do and what we don't do.

Our test. and the test of our elected officials/leadership--will we/they stand up for those that can't? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 6, 2013

Fair Trade Principles Are Cool

So I was up in Harpers Ferry and discovered this cool boutique store called Tenfold

The store carries a collection of creative "fair trade," eco-friendly products from around the world. 

They had a cool variety of clothing and accessories--that was different and special. 

We all found something there to come back with and had to choose what we liked best. 

I ended up getting a couple of handmade ties from a company called Global Mamas in Ghana and the girls got some skirts (and necklaces) made by Unique Batik in Thailand. 

I liked the quality and design of the merchandise. 

But more than that, I was truly impressed by the principles these companies adhere to under fair trade:

- Alleviate poverty and social injustice
- Support open, fair, and respectful relationships between producers and customers
- Develop producers' skills, and foster access to markets, application of best practices, and independence, 
- Promote economic justice by improving living standards, health, education, and the distribution of power
- Pay promptly and fairly
- Support safe working conditions
- Protect children's rights
- Cultivate sustainable practices
- Respect cultural diversity

Note: Fair trade is not to be confused with free trade--the later being where government does not interfere with imports or exports by applying tariffs, subsidies, or quotas.

Truly, if we give people a chance to be productive under fair trade working conditions, they can make the world a little better one product at a time. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 11, 2013

The Status Quo, No!

Two more articles, this time in Fast Company (Sept 2013) are pointing to the unhappiness of people and the desire to change things.

The first "You Sign, Companies Listen," about Change.org, "the world's petition platform" that now has 40 million users launching as many as 1,000 petitions a day.  Now the site is allowing organizations to respond to petitions publicly and also has a "Decision Maker page," which shows organizations all the petitions against them. 

Change.org focuses on "personal issues with achievable solutions," especially personal stories of injustice. The site is about a carrot and stick approach. Organizations can choose to listen and respond positively to their constituents legitimate issues or "there is a stick" if they don't engage with the hundreds of thousands and millions of petitioners. 

A second article, "Not Kidding Around," about DoSomething.org, which "spearheads national campaigns" for young people interested in social change. Their values are optimism for a sense of hope, rebellion meaning the rules are broken and needs to be rewritten, and empathy to feel others pain so we can change things for the better. 

There is a notion here that the youngsters "have no faith that Washington politicians can solve this problem." These kids feel that "the world is in the shitter" and they want to help create social change. 

It is interesting to me that despite our immense wealth and technological advances or maybe in some cases because of it--creating a materialistic, self-based society--that people are disillusioned and looking to restore meaning, purpose, and social justice.

Things have got to mean more than just getting the latest gadget, blurbing about what you had for lunch on twitter, or accumulating material things (homes, cars, vacations, clothes, shoes, bags, and more). 

People can't live on materialism alone, but are seeking a deeper connection with G-d and the universe--to make peace with our creator and with each other and create a better world where we are elevated for helping others, rather than just taking for ourselves. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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